When A Gardener Visits A Forest

When a gardener visits a forest,

She looks for the color of the leaves and finds the red of the Sassafras trees (Sassafras albidum) in the understory.
She remembers how her Dad tried to dig up sassafras trees and plant them in his garden, never successfully because of the deep tap roots. He always said they couldn't take our cold winters.

Nearby, she finds still green leaves on a young Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
Many people plant this tree in their gardens because it is the state tree.

She continues on through the forest and though she knows this is not the peak season for wildflowers, she manages to find a few blooms.

She makes a mental note to return to the forest in the spring, when wildflowers should emerge from the carpet of leaves and will be the big show.

She finds and follows the dry stream bed deeper into the forest.

And hopes by spring it is once again flowing with water.

Along the way, she finds this rock which would be a perfect rock to sit on and ponder all that is around her.
She sits there for a moment to try it out and then asks if anyone would kindly carry it out of the forest for her so she can take it home to her own garden, but no one offers. It is just as well, she thinks, because it is probably better to ponder in the forest on such a rock, than in a garden.

Further down the creek bed, she finds the exposed roots of a tree.

She thinks it is the perfect place for forest sprites to live. Forest sprites are the wilder cousins of the garden fairies, if there can be something wilder than a garden fairy.

She continues on quietly, so as not to disturb the sprites, and returns to the pond.
Here she considers what the forest teaches a gardener and finds a simple lesson.

The sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.
It is good to see the forest to remind us of that we too often get lost in finding a particular plant, or worrying about tall flowers flopping over, or fretting that we will never get the garden cleaned up before it snows. The forest reminds us that the garden can do just fine with far less of our interference than we can imagine.

When a gardener goes to the forest...


  1. I hope you get a chance to see it in spring. I would love to see what kinds of treasures it holds.

  2. The forest is so inspiring and nature is a great teacher. I love sassafrass trees. My next-door neighbors had one in their front yard when I was growing up.

  3. Carol, That was a really lovely tour~Eastern Deciduous forests feel so pleasant to walk about in and it felt like home to me. No wonder the sassafrass tree another gardenblogger gave me didn't make it~We had hoped it was young enough to move. gail

  4. She thinks... "Wow, Mother Nature sure did a lovely job cultivating this garden!"

  5. I am fortunate to live 'in the forest' kind of, sort of. The paths through the woods always hold a lesson.

  6. Dear Carol, Beautifully photographed and beautifully written! It is wonderful to look at nature through the eyes of a gardener. Pam x

  7. What a lovely trip down the dry creek bed. Thanks for taking us on your journey.

  8. I think enjoying the forest and wilderness is a good part of what compels me to garden. I guess I am trying to recreate that feeling I get when I go there.

  9. Yes, sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees, can we? We get so bogged down worrying about one little detail that we don't appreciate the whole. Thanks for taking me along on your walk in the forest :-)

  10. The forest has so much to teach us, thanks for taking us along the path to enlightenment. Those exposed tree roots are so full of enchantment, the magic nearly leaps off the laptop from the photo. I can only imagine what it must have been like in person. The wood sprites must have been scratching their heads while watching you, or maybe they got advance notice from their cousins the garden fairies about your arrival. What a wonderful place to ponder the mysteries of life.

  11. What a wonderful morning "wake up" call reading your blog post. Although I do believe "God is in the details", I sometimes focus on the small things and lose sight of the forest. One thing I love about fall on the east coast, is hiking through the fallen vibrantly colored leaves. I can take in the details but also absorb the bigger picture. Thanks!

  12. I love tulip trees, they have the most amazing leaves!

  13. A lovely, thoughtful post, Carol. There are certainly lessons to be learned from walking through a woods, not to mention the inspiration it holds.

  14. As a woodland gardener and a great lover of trees, I enjoyed this post immensely! Beautiful photos and a reminder that there is a gardener greater than we!

  15. A very compelling and relaxing post, Carol. I love going to the forest because it reminds me of how well things can stay balanced out there without any interference at all. You certainly had a wonderful place to walk. . . thanks for sharing.


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